Keith Loo
IMPACT INVESTING

Keith Loo

#14

Listen on

Apple Podcast
Spotify

Advisor and Mentor to Start-ups

Choose Mentors Wisely – Keith Loo

“We always like to say we [startups] operate in stealth mode and the first time you’re gonna hear from us, the word we say is checkmate.”

ABOUT

Keith Loo loves scaling businesses. Regardless if it’s a startup, non-profit, or global corporation – he thoroughly enjoys the full process from ideation, to execution, to massive scale.

He is passionate about developing innovation, transformation, and go-to-market strategies that drive real, tangible impact.

He is also a:

  • Proficient technical jargon specialist, including but not limited to AI, big data, AR/VR, ML, and NLP
  • Data & Cloud Computing strategist
  • Skydiver
  • Open Source, Open Data, and Open Government advocate
  • Gamer
  • Start-up, Scale-up, and Keep Going enthusiast
  • Proud Alumnus of the Schulich School of Business
  • Raptors fan

REQUEST INTRODUCTION Arrow

THE FULL INTERVIEW

Keith Loo

The full #OPNAskAnAngel talk

Jeffery:
Welcome Keith Lou, we’re excited to have you here today. Why don’t we start off by maybe giving us a little bit of background about yourself, where you come from and the things that you do in the angel investment community and world that you are into today.

Keith:
Sure I’m a start-up coach, a little startup, an advisor and mentor. And I really focus on taking high businesses that can really scale and enabling them to get there. And so I’m known for building Canada’s first fractional CTO service and so that was when we really work closely with a lot of investors and their businesses that were perhaps struggling you know after they blown through most of their investments and then we would step in and help them get there. And so after doing that for a few years I’ve really kind of fallen in love with just helping startups grow and so that’s what I do.

Jeffery:
Perfect and is this been something you’ve been doing forever or were you in a start-up yourself and kind of just saw there’s this bigger picture?

Keith:
I’ve always been involved in startups in my career. I mean I had my first startup about 20 years ago back then it wasn’t called the startup was just called a side hustle or just hustling. But I’ve always kind of started even when I was working full-time roles and my startups are making more money than my full-time gigs. But yeah I’ve always been involved in startups but it wasn’t really called a start-up maybe until about eight years or so ago and I’ve had tremendous failures and
catastrophic failures and I’ve had a few success and so I’ve been fortunate that way.

Jeffery:
Okay great well we can talk about all those because they’re all good information to learn from. and hey you wouldn’t be not sitting here, you could be sitting anywhere but you wouldn’t be in the position you are today if you didn’t have the failures and you didn’t have the successes. so they’re all beneficial to who and what you are today right

Keith
Mm-hmm

Jeffery:
So I guess the the first question is why do you invest in startups and why do you have this idea that you need to be around startups? What really drives you for this?

Keith
Startups drive tremendous growth and innovation that your traditional enterprises or legacy businesses just can’t do at the right speed or have the commitment to do it right. Whereas startups tend to take more risk and are not afraid to just do things that are the right way of doing things. and so that’s just a passion of mine and love building businesses and so when I find other businesses or the people that are doing something that is just amazing and I can change the world or that can make a phenomenal amount of money, I would love to contribute in any way I can.

Jeffery:
What got you started in the investment community side of things, like what got you steered into this?

Keith:
So what got me started in investments, and so I haven’t been in the investment game for that long probably about six or seven years. When one of the startups that I was mentoring they really needed some cash to get going. And this was a business that I really believed in and I thought if I
believed in this business that much I should put in money. And that’s kind of what started the ball. And I don’t jump into investments all the time, I put in a lot of my time and energy but where it makes sense sometimes I do that.

Jeffery:
That’s awesome. So when you did do this, did it work out over the long run? Was this part of your highs or the part of the lows?

Keith:
Well the first one was a big high. And so that’s kind of in the domino effect right. So it worked out quite well and is working well and so that’s what kept me involved.

Jeffery:
oh that’s awesome. And you’re right, it’s the excitement, it’s almost addictive – it’s like gambling. so if you find the right mix you’re like ‘I’m in’, and the next one comes too like ‘man this fits the right mix I’m in’, and it keeps domino affecting but at the end of the day you still gotta have the hands on to help and drive in there to work with them. So is there a favorite part that you really love about startups or investing in startups?

Keith:
My favorite part about the startups and the startups that I am most interested in are those that are looking for more than just money. And I think most people, most smart founders realize that money is not the only thing that they need. And I think that’s a major challenge that we find while working with founders you know. I want five million dollars over ten million dollars, I want five hundred thousand dollars and once I have that I’m gonna have the best startup for best business in the world. That’s usually not the case, it’s I need that money so that I can get customers. I need that money so I can build products, right. I need that money for a variety of reasons, and so if you have an investor that can help with that particular thing, perhaps of their network, perhaps their experience, perhaps that’s what their business does. I think that’s where it’s more aligned and so that’s where I usually look for you know, ‘can this startup benefit from more than just my money or my networks money’, and we can really go in, for instance, if we are working with a medical startup and I have investors or my network can really work with these medical platforms or applications I think that would make a lot more sense. So that’s typically when I would get involved.

Jeffery:
Well that’s great. So you’re kind of a visionary because you’re looking at what’s going on in this business right now and you’re envisioning where they should be in the next three to five years and you’re going to say is that if I come in and just give you cash that might get you to here, but if I come in and help you with these things or our group comes in and helps you with these things, you’re gonna get here no matter what we’re gonna help you get to that three-year mark. So you
have to envision it. If you can’t envision yourself getting there then you probably won’t be investing or driving into that company

Keith:
Exactly. I mean and I am afraid of the term visionary because it sounds so grand. I think it’s more just someone who thinks a bit more long-term, more strategically for these startups. And that’s something that — I work with a lot of incubators and accelerators and I mentor quite a few startups and one of the major challenges that we have that we typically see is most often, start